Personal Health

Want to Lose Weight in the New Year? Start by Conducting a Food Audit.

Want to Lose Weight in the New Year? Start by Conducting a Food Audit.
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Now that it's a new year, many people resolve to get in shape.

But before you take that step, it's important to understand your current eating habits. That's why I propose that you conduct a week-long food audit.

Here's the challenge: Starting on a Monday, keep track of everything you eat by writing it in a notebook. This challenge requires that you do not alter your typical habits. The idea is to get a feel for where you stand now, so you can make smart changes that won't completely upend your life.

Related: Looking to Lose Weight? Researchers Say This Simple Switch Can Do the Trick.

The danger in this audit is that the very act of tracking your consumption can alter your habits. So, wait until the week is complete before you calculate calories.

After you estimate the calories (using one of the many food databases available online or using an app such as MyFitnessPal, my personal choice), measure your average consumption against your goals. Based on your gender, height and weight, use an online calculator (or talk to a professional) to estimate how many calories you should be consuming in a day to reach your target weight.

For example, an average man needs to consume around 2,500 calories a day to maintain his weight, while an average women should consume around 2,000 calories. If your audit reveals you are eating in excess of this amount, shoot for a goal closer to the average.

Once you get all of the raw data, you can see where you may be going wrong with your eating habits. This will make it easier to find ways of making a change with your diet, rather than trying to make that clichéd resolution of “eating better in the new year.” With a more concrete goal, it shouldn’t be too long before you see real results.

You don't want to be too aggressive at the start. Little changes are what make the biggest differences.

Numbers -- knowledge, really -- are empowering, and this trick may give you much-needed direction in your efforts for a healthier body. Happy counting.

Related: Your Food Choices Ultimately Influence Your Workplace Success

Edition: December 2016

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